At the Pennington Planning Board meeting last night, the board heard an application, by American Properties at Pennington, LLC for the construction of an 80-dwelling unit residential community on the 13 acres located off of Knowles, West Franklin and RT31, near the Straube Center.
“Heritage at Pennington” would consist of 19 buildings with 3 different styles — 32 villas, 32 townhouses, and 16 “COAH” or affordable housing units. The villas would be 3-bedrooms with a 2-car garage; the townhouses would be 3-bedrooms with a 1-car garage; and the “COAH” units (affordable units) would be 2-bedroom with surface parking. The density would be 2.5 units per acre, less dense than neighboring Pennington Point.
The developer also proposes construct a private roadway system with parking areas, sidewalks to the interior and perimeter of the property, drainage systems and a retention basin, a tot lot and a passive recreation area.
Currently, the property has two existing buildings, formerly residences now being used as offices by Capital Health, and a built-in abandoned pool in the middle of the site. Also in the middle of the property is a patch of wetlands covering .25 of an acre that has been deemed by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) as “intermediate” and “ordinary.”
Due to the magnitude of the project, the applicant presented only portion of its overall application with only testimony from Alfred Coco, their professional engineer and planner. Coco preliminarily addressed the requested variances, along with a brief overview of the property and the storm water management, soil report, sewer service, and landscaping/woodland management plan.
American Properties has already received approvals, according to Coco, regarding flood hazard adequacy determination and a wetlands letter of interpretation from NJDEP, indicating that the waterways on the property are classified as “intermediate” and “ordinary” meaning that they require smaller buffers. Once American Properties receives an approval from Pennington Borough, they will be able to seek approval for the extension of sewer service to the property from Stony Brook Regional Sewage Authority.
Procedurally, the applicant is requesting Preliminary/Final Major Subdivision & Site Plan Approval and also with several technical map-based variances primarily regarding set-backs. The distinction between preliminary and final were discussed with regard to performance guarantees and bonds posted.
The planning board is delving deeply into the application and has already identified questions about impervious surface coverage and storm water management as an area of concern.
“We would like a better understanding of the overall system and where the water is going because there are problem areas in the Boro, particularly on North Main Street, where the road dips down and there is flooding,” said Pennington Planning Board Chair, Winn Thompson. “This is important that we understand what is happening and where. A lot of these streams run through people’s backyards.”
The applicant is required to do additional soil testing and soil borings, as per the request of Pennington’s engineer, Carmela Roberts, to determine the permeability of the soil in order to develop a storm water management plan for the vicinity consistent with the soil quality.
About 20 members of the community were in attendance and many posed concerns to the planning board, in particular about water availability, increased traffic and lighting in the area.
The application will continue at the next Pennington Planning Board meeting on Wednesday December 9th at 7:30pm.